In recent years since Prince Fielder's departure in 2011, Milwaukee has been known as a primarily right-handed team. That reputation has extended to the Brewers bullpen as well, until this season.
A bullpen that already boasts one of the best left-handed setup men this season in Will Smith got a little bit stronger on Friday night thanks to a couple roster moves. The Brewers brought back lefty Tom Gorzelanny and utility man Elian Herrera while sending outfielder Logan Schafer and utility man Irving Falu back to Triple-A Nashville.
Gorzelanny will be making his 2014 debut for the Brewers following surgery last December to repair tears to the rotator cuff and labrum in his throwing shoulder. He made 10 appearances in Single-A Brevard County and Triple-A Nashville, amassing a 1.15 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings. Last season for the Brewers, Gorzelanny had a 3.90 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings.
The Brewers pen now features four left-handed arms: Gorzelanny, Smith, Zach Duke, and Wei-Chung Wang. Smith leads all Brewer pitchers with a 0.88 ERA going into action on Saturday night, and is a sleeper candidate to represent the National League in the All-Star game. Duke is second among Brewer pitchers with a 1.32 ERA in 31 appearances, and has served as a good match up pitcher against left-handed hitters. Wang has struggled early on this season after being selected in the Rule-5 draft this offseason by the Brewers, but is steadily bringing his ERA down and earning the confidence of manager Ron Roenicke.
Gorzelanny will also likely serve as another left-handed mentor for Wang to help accelerate his development. As the Brewers look to hang on to their division lead, it will be important to match up well against left-handed superstars like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzalez, and Anthony Rizzo. With the addition of Gorzelanny, the Brewers should have the staff to contain these players late in games.
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